Friday, October 26, 2012

Going it Alone

The past couple of summers we dealt with a number of turf issues on the practice tees that led to something less than great grass to hit from by late summer.  This year, we converted the lower practice tee to the heat-loving Bermudagrass with great success, providing quality turf throughout the season...even in August.

However, the downside to using Bermudagrass in this region is that it is only actively growing about five months out of the year, from mid-May to mid-October. This year we stretched the lower tee's use as long as possible, but with a very heavy frost on Saturday, October 13, it was time to shut the lower tee down.

 So now the upper tee has to go it alone.  Unlike other years, the upper tee will shoulder the full burden for the rest of the season.  This includes the challenge of getting seed to germinate as we get into the cooler temperatures of November.  Can it live up to the challenge?  With the upper tee open for five more weeks, and many a divot yet to be taken, we'll be working with (and sometime fighting against) Mother Nature to make sure the upper tee is a turf winner through Thanksgiving.

With the lower, Bermudagrass tee closed for the season, the upper tee will go it alone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Greens Aerification

It's a great time of year for growing healthy turf.  With cooler temperatures, comes good root growth, and a slowing of leaf growth.  We've received a lot of positive comments about the condition of the course in general, and the greens in particular.

With the greens rolling fast and smooth, the inevitable question arises:  "The greens are perfect...Why do you have to aerify them now?"

The short answer is that we don't have to aerify the greens right now.  The USGA recommends disturbing 15-20% of the greens surface annually, and there's more than one way, or time of year when this can be accomplished.  For example, some courses choose to wait until Thanksgiving before performing a very aggressive aerification.  While there's nothing wrong with this timing, the later one waits in the fall to aerify, the higher the likelihood that you'll spend the entire winter looking at un-healed holes. 

So, truth be told, we don't have to aerify the greens right now...but we do have to sometime.   If you stop and think about it, this is similar to how people must treat their cars.  As with the greens, the question can be asked, "Why do I need to take my car in for service when it's running great."  But most of us know that while you may be able to put off something like a tune-up for a short period of time, the longer you defer this practice, the greater the odds are that your vehicle is going to have problems down the road. 

In late October, we're right on the edge of being able to get the holes healed.  However, based on the past two years, this timing has worked well for us.  So, please try to keep in mind that the aerification we do today, is helping to set the foundation for a great 2013 golfing season.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Frost is On the Pumpkin

How can a footprint be a killer?
When it's a footprint made on a putting surface that's covered with frost. It may be hard to believe that simply walking across a golf green covered with frost can cause so much damage, but the evidence will be there in a few days as the turfgrass dies and leaves a trail of brown footprints. That's why most courses will delay starting times until the frost has melted. And it's also why golfers who appreciate a quality putting surface will be patient during frost delays.
Why does frost cause problems?
The putting surface, or green, is an extremely fragile environment that must be managed carefully. Remember that every green is a collection of millions of individual grass plants, each of which is a delicate living thing. Obviously, Mother Nature never meant for these plants to be maintained at 1/8 or even 1/10 of an inch for prolonged periods. This stress makes greens constantly vulnerable to attacks from insects, disease, heat, drought, cold -- and frost.

Frost is essentially frozen dew. It can form when the temperature (or wind chill) is near or below the freezing point. The ice crystals that form on the outside of the plant can also harden or even freeze the cell structure of the plant. When frosted, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and are easily crushed. When the cell membranes are damaged, the plant loses its ability to function normally. It's not much different than cracking an egg. Once the shell is broken, you can't put it back together.

 The proof is in the prints

Although you won't see any immediate damage if you walk on frosted turf, the proof will emerge within 48 to 72 hours as the leaves die and turn brown. And, since just one foursome can leave several hundred footprints on each green, the damage can be very extensive.

 Thanks for understanding

The damage isn't just unsightly -- putting quality will also be reduced until repairs are made. Those repairs are time-consuming and, in extreme cases, the green may have to be kept out of play for days or weeks until the new turfgrass is established. A short delay while the frost melts can preserve the quality of the greens, prevent needless repairs and may even save you a few strokes the next time you play.

Look at the damage caused by a single footprint.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Still a Little Rough Around the Edges

The primary rough thinned out in several locations last month due to a combination of factors.  As we mentioned earlier, grubs caused damage in some spots, but that was only one of the stresses the plants were under.

Along with several other area golf courses, the Ryegrass component of our rough got hit hard by a turf disease known as Grey Leaf Spot.  This pathogen doesn't mess around.  Turf that's under attack from Grey Leaf Spot may appear to be under drought stress, despite having good soil moisture, and within a few days, the Rye is pretty well gone.

The other contributing factor to the damage the rough suffered, was a non-living, or abiotic stress.  The week of the Men's Member-Member tournament, rain soaked the golf course, with almost 2.4" of rain from Monday-Saturday.  Turf that was tired after the long summer, didn't appreciate all of the cart traffic when soils were saturated.  On several holes, such as #4, the rough on the left of the hole was unblemished, whereas the the high traffic right side showed a lot of wear and tear from carts.

The good news is that with fall come cooler temperatures, which aid in turf recovery.  We have also spent the last couple of weeks aerifying and seeding these high traffic areas around the course, and we're already seeing significant improvement in many parts of the rough.

Better weather has helped the rough in many areas.